2021 Subaru Hot Hatchback ReviewFebruary 19, 2019
Subaru has not offered a new subcompact hatchback in twenty years. Finally, things will change in the next two years, when a higher performance version debuts. First of all, however, Subaru has to make their plans to return to the World Rally Championship a reality.
According to several Japanese websites, wants back in WRC, a competition which had made both the Subaru brand and their Impreza model famous during the 1990s and 2000s. The company first must develop and build a completely new car, because both the Impreza and the WRX are no longer viable. Therefore, Subaru is reportedly working on a new subcompact similar in size to Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20, and Toyota Yaris.
Back in 1992, the famous company replaced their Rex with a slightly bigger Vivio. It was more of a subcompact and it also spawned a rally car for WRC stages in both Japan and the 1993 Safari Rally. However, long before Vivio, Subaru introduced the Justy model in 1984. It is practically the company’s only true subcompact car, and it had stayed in production for 10 years, sold globally in Europe and the USA. The model lived on after 1994 as a retagged Suzuki Cultus and in 2016, the Daihatsu Thor and Toyota Tank mini MPV. The original Justy still remains the one true predecessor of the newly planned car by Subaru.
Nobody knows what the car will look like yet, and no prototypes, sketches, or leaks are available yet. Understandable, as it is still a couple of years away at least. We can assume that the upcoming Subaru will share some of the stylings with the current vehicles, so some fantasy designing is in order.
The car will probably have a similar grille, with a honeycomb mesh and squared-off headlamps, although a bit bigger and swept-back toward the A-pillars. This design is typical of most hatchbacks today. There will be a big intake on the hood, which will feed the air into the engine.
Under this, a WRX center bumper section is what could be present on the car, alongside four rectangular openings in a black frame, extending into the splitter. Instead of the big side air intakes though, we envision some black covers and a pair of round fog lamps.
When it comes to the sides, the company will most likely go with the typical subcompact hatchback details. This would, of course, would include big side windows, a beltline that subtly moves towards the rear end, and a slightly protruding and low side skirts. There could also be some additional character lines above the side sills, as well as below the door handles. These could be anywhere, however, based on what the current Subaru models sport. As a performance model car, this new hatchback could also utilize the famous and awesome looking gold wheels, currently found on the WRX model.
We believe that the rear fascia should include the two important elements related to performance. The first one is a sizable wing on the top of the tailgate, while the second one is a sporty diffuser, capped off by two round exhaust pipes at the end.
As it is always the case, except the performance model be described here, Subaru will most probably offer a milder and more affordable version to compete against the regular Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Toyota Yaris, and Hyundai i20 models. As is the cases with all of the cars mentioned, this version would have looked less aggressive and will likely be based on the Impreza more than the WRX.
Because we do not have any other subcompact from Subaru to look into and compare, it is rather tough to predict how the interior of the new hatchback might look. However, it is pretty safe to assume that it will not have a lot of premium features, as Subaru will want to keep it affordable. This then, of course, translates into a lack of fancy gadgets and features in the cockpit.
However, while the regular street model might not come with too much of the extras, the higher performance variant is sure to have a lot of them, so you can expect a digital instrument cluster with tons of graphics oriented for performance, a big infotainment touchscreen display, and some unique inserts on both the dashboard and the door panels.
Like most of the other performance hatchbacks, it should also come with sporty seats, which offer enhanced lateral support and additional comfort. They may not be fully wrapped in leather as the standard, but Subaru will probably offer this option for some extra bucks. The standard model should at least come with Alcantara inserts.
Since it is a subcompact car, the hatchback will probably offer limited space for the passengers riding in the back, while the trunk will not offer too much luggage space either. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that it will not lag too much behind its competition in these departments.
At the moment, Subaru has several different options of their own. They can either decide to go with the 1.6-liter engine or the 2.0-liter engine, both being boxer-fours also available in the Impreza.
The 1.6-liter power plant is only available in Europe, so this would make much sense for this hatchback specific for the European market. However, with only 112 horsepower as is the case with the Impreza, the four-boxer engine will not be able to keep up with the competition. In comparison, the Volkswagen Polo GTI, the Ford Focus ST, and the Toyota Yaris GRMN all have engines that produce around 200 horsepower.
On the other hand, ironically, the 2.0-liter engine would also be inferior to the competition, as the current edition present in the Impreza produces approximately 152 horsepower. Of course, though, Subaru could potentially upgrade both of the engines in order to gain more out of them. The 2.0 unit might seem too big for a subcompact car, but keep in mind that Volkswagen managed to fit their 2.0-liter in the new Polo GTI. So, why should we think that Subaru cannot find a way to do it as well?
The third option is, of course, the possibility that the Japanese firm designs and assembles a brand-new engine for the car. For example, a small, turbocharged four-cylinder engine capable of delivering around 200 horses should do the trick. It remains to be seen if Subaru has the means, ambition, and the finances to build a completely new engine from scratch.
Next comes the collaboration the company already has with Toyota, regarding the 86 and BRZ twins. Although it could be possible that the engine in a sports car might not be right in a hatchback, Subaru may borrow the supercharged 1.8-liter power plant from the Yaris GRMN. Producing 209 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, it is powerful enough for Subaru’s new hatchback to make it one of the most powerful cars in the class.
Whatever the company chooses for the drivetrain, this new hatchback must have 195 horsepower at least, and a 0 to 62 mph acceleration of around six seconds, if it wants to be competitive.
In order for Subaru to stay competitive, the new hot-hatchback has to be priced in a way that it does not come as the most expensive option in the category. Both Ford and Volkswagen have a tradition of being careful about this, but Subaru will start completely from scratch. Fortunately, though, the Japanese company has a money gap to play with when deciding the price. While the Ford Fiesta ST and VW Polo GTI start from at £19,495 and £21,140, respectively, the Toyota Yaris GRMN costs a whopping £26,295 without any additional options. Therefore, Subaru can price theirs at around £20,000, maybe between the Polo and the Yaris.
As mentioned, the main competition for the new Subaru subcompact model will most likely be the rest of the cars from the same category, mainly Volkswagen Polo GTI, Ford Fiesta ST, and Toyota Yaris GRMN. The base model will naturally go against the base models of these three cars.
While nothing has yet been confirmed, there is a high chance that we will receive a high-performance subcompact hatchback from Subaru in the next several years. The company has to expand, and even though SUVs usually benefit from expansions, a subcompact hatchback generally becomes quite popular in many different markets, the European. There is a greater chance of course for this potential new vehicle to come if Subaru truly wishes to rejoin the World Rally Championship, given their rich heritage and quite a long absence from the racing series. A 200-horsepower new hatchback with a “Subaru” badge on both the public roads and muddy racetracks is something fans would not mind one bit.